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Container lines, logistics players not overly concerned on trade war impact

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Asian shipping and logistics executives are not overly concerned about the impact of the US and China trade war and see a shift in trade patterns.

Speaking at the Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference (ALMC) in Hong Kong, Mike Fong, vice president, head Greater China for Maersk Line said: “The trade tensions will cause disruptions for our customers especially on the transpacific.”

In the short term this actually means in a spike in demand on the transpacific as shippers try to beat a 1 January 2019 deadline for new tariffs. As a result Chen said Maersk was deploying more capacity on the trade to meet demand at present, however, after Chinese New Year in 2019 there will probably be a longer quiet period in the market than normal.

Should the trade war continue he said, “In the long term we need to put this perspective, it impacts about 2% of global trade.”

There was a similar message from Karen Reddington, president Asia-Pacific division for FedEx Express, who said: “Trade will continue but you have to look at this as bump in the road.

“They are tariffs, they are a cost...but trade won't stop.”

The tariffs on Chinese imports to the US were also seen as changing trade patterns with a growthin manufacturing in Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia for export to the US.

Nassim Yochai, vp transpacific trade for ZIM Integrated Shipping Services, “We already see unfinished goods moving from China to Southeast Asia for assembly for export.” This trend is expected to boost Southeast Asia.

Read more: MSI warns trade war effects could filter down to intra-Asia trades

Commenting on the trade war Steve Saxon, partner McKinsey & Co, said: “Not necessarily a bad thing as it leads to a rebalancing of trade and trade lanes.”

ALMC is part of Hong Kong Maritime Week 2018.

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